Global, national and local experts will share their creative initiatives to serve the greater community
President Mark D. Gearan recently announced that service, at the local, national and global levels, is the theme for the President’s Forum speakers series this fall. Highlighting the forum are three creative leaders who will focus on three different areas of civic engagement in addition to the showing of two documentary films.
The three speakers include: Chris Myers Asch, the driving force behind the U.S. Public Service Academy, will discuss his idea that has been listed by Time magazine as one of the top 10 ideas to change the country; Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter will address the challenges and rewards of global service, share new ways the Peace Corps is making a difference, and reflect on his past service in India; and Wendy Puriefoy ’71, a national expert in school reform, will explore the state of public education – an issue of vital importance and profound concern to parents across every town, village, city, county and state.
“These three speakers will really give us an informed perspective on civic engagement, Gearan said. “From Chris Myers Asch to my Peace Corps colleague Ron Tschetter and our own Wendy Puriefoy, the students and the larger community will find plenty to stimulate the mind, inspire the heart and challenge the spirit.
Chris Myers Asch, co-founder of the U.S. Public Service Academy, will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 17, in the Geneva Room.
Asch is the co-founder of the U.S. Public Service Academy, which, when completed, would be a national civilian university modeled on military service academies to provide a rigorous undergraduate education to students who will then devote five years of civilian service as a teacher, park ranger, police officer, border agent or other critical public service job at the local, state, national or international level. Asch is a former member of Teach for America and the founder of the Sunflower County Freedom Project, an intensive academic enrichment and leadership development program for middle and high school students.
His proposal has been given wide exposure. An Aug. 30 article in Time magazine, “A Time to Serve, featured the Academy as a vital component of voluntary universal national service. The idea also has bipartisan support: Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton and Republican Sen. Arlen Specter are co-sponsors of a bill that would allocate $164 million per year for the envisioned 5,000-student academy.
Asch holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a master’s and Ph.D. in American History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Ron Tschetter, Director of the Peace Corps, will speak on “Peace Corps: How Far Will You Go?,” at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23 in Albright Auditorium. He will be introduced by Gearan, who headed the agency from 1995 to 1999.
Tschetter is the 17th director of the federal agency and the third director in the Peace Corps’ history to have served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Along with his wife Nancy, Tschetter volunteered with the Peace Corps in India from 1966-1968, where they served as community health workers. Before becoming Peace Corps Director, he was president of D.A. Davidson & Co., headquartered in Montana, the largest full-service investment firm in the Northwest.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and social studies from Bethel University.
On Thursday, Nov. 1, President of the Public Education Network Wendy Puriefoy, a 1971 graduate of William Smith College, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room.
A national expert on school reform and civil society, Puriefoy is a passionate and effective advocate for education equity for disadvantaged children. She has been president of PEN, the nation’s largest network of community-based school reform organizations, since its founding in 1991. A member of many national boards and committees, she also chairs The White House Project, which seeks to foster the entry of women into positions of leadership, including the U.S. Presidency.
Puriefoy was the first student elected to the Colleges’ Board of Trustees, who returned to serve for two years starting in 1992. She is a founding member of the Advisory Board of The Fisher Center and received the Alumnae Achievement Award in 2000. Currently she serves as a member of the William Smith Centennial Honorary Committee.
In addition to her bachelor’s degree, she holds three master of arts degrees from Boston University in African American studies, American studies and American colonial history.
Rounding out this fall’s series will be the showing of two documentary films: one exploring an amazing friendship between two Afghan youths and the other bringing to life the incredible dedication of the laborers who put food on our tables.
“The theory of the forum was always to explore new ides and the medium of film can be very thought-provoking, Gearan said.
A screening of “American Harvest, a documentary film on immigration, introduced by its writer, producer and director, Angelo Mancuso, will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27 in the Geneva Room of Warren Hunting Smith Library. Mancuso’s appearance is in conjunction with the immigration conference sponsored by the Colleges’ Office of Intercultural Affairs.
In his film, Mancuso, of Rochester, tackles the complacency of many regarding the backbreaking work it takes to get fresh fruits and vegetables to our supermarkets and tables. Growers from Florida to Upstate New York talk of their frustration at the lack of local labor and their dependence on “illegal” farm workers for survival.
The second is a special screening of the new film “The Kite Runner,” adapted from Khaled Hosseini’s book of the same name, which will be shown at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the Geneva Movieplex 8 in the Geneva Center shopping plaza on Hamilton Street. A panel of community leaders will discuss the movie following the showing.
Hosseini's haunting writing takes readers into Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy and into the horrific rule of the Taliban, telling the heartbreaking story of an unlikely friendship between a wealthy Afghan boy and the son of his father’s servant, bringing a part of the world that was previously unknown to vivid life. The book offers, in the words of one reviewer, “an educational and eye-opening account of a country’s political turmoil – in this case, Afghanistan – while also developing characters whose heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs resonate with readers. The film was directed by Marc Forster, a Golden Globe nominee perhaps best known for directing “Monster’s Ball.
The President's Forum Series, established in the winter of 2000 by President Mark D. Gearan, is designed to bring a variety of speakers to campus to share their knowledge and ideas with students, faculty, and staff of the Colleges, as well as with interested community members.
Forum guests generally take the opportunity during their campus visits to attend classes or gather with students and faculty members to discuss issues.